Betty Boothroyd tells Bercow: You’re out of order trying to ban Trump from addressing the Commons
- Former Commons Speaker says Trump should be ‘welcomed’ into Parliament
- Betty Boothroyd hits out at Bercow on refusal to let Trump address Commons
- His state visit has been timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day
Betty Boothroyd tore into John Bercow yesterday over his refusal to allow Donald Trump to address the Commons.
The respected former Speaker said the US President should be ‘welcomed’ into Parliament in June – and said it was not up to her successor to block him.
In her most strongly-worded criticism of the present Speaker yet, she told the Daily Mail: ‘No Speaker should indulge himself in personalities and whom he approves or disapproves. Speakers must always remember they are the servant of the House and not its master.’
Baroness Boothroyd said the US President should be ‘welcomed’ into Parliament in June – and said it was not up to her successor to block him. She is pictured at a ‘People’s Vote’ rally earlier this month
The 89-year-old peer said it was Parliament’s duty to stand with the President as he visits the country to commemorate the US and British forces who fought alongside each other on D-Day.
The state visit has been timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France in June.
Mr Bercow said in 2017 that he would be unwilling to allow Mr Trump to make a formal address in Westminster Hall, as Barack Obama did during his state visit in 2011.
It is extremely rare for a former Speaker to criticise a successor. However in January Baroness Boothroyd accused Mr Bercow, pictured above in a file photo, of acting dishonestly in his Brexit row with the Government
He said he was ‘strongly opposed’ to a presidential address, citing ‘opposition to racism and sexism’ and described it as ‘an earned honour’, not an automatic right.
This week Lord Fowler, Mr Bercow’s counterpart in the Lords, said there was a ‘strong case’ for allowing the President to speak.
And Baroness Boothroyd said: ‘The Speaker has no authority as to whom should address Parliament. President Trump may not be flavour of the month with many, but he is coming to this country as head of a major player in the free world to commemorate with us the D-Day landings.
‘He should be welcomed as a representative of the American people who sent their sons to fight alongside us.’
She added: ‘The Speaker has responsibility – he also has duty. Those in authority often have to carry out duties they may find unsavoury but responsibility also brings with it duty.’
Trump is pictured at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, with Prime Minister Theresa May in July 2018
It is extremely rare for a former Speaker to criticise a successor. However in January Baroness Boothroyd accused Mr Bercow of acting dishonestly in his Brexit row with the Government.
Baroness Boothroyd was respected on both sides of the House during her tenure between 1992 and 2000.
The Dewsbury-born former Labour MP was the first woman to be elected to the role of Commons Speaker.
She now sits in the Lords as a crossbench peer.
Speeches in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Palace of Westminster, need the agreement of the Speakers of the Commons and the Lords and the Queen’s representative, the Lord Great Chamberlain.
Officials could get round Mr Bercow’s objections by inviting Mr Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery, part of the Lords, where Ronald Reagan in 1982 and Bill Clinton in 1995 spoke.
Several Cabinet ministers want the President to speak in the Lords. One said: ‘We’re not inviting the person, we’re inviting the office.’
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘His visit is about more than Trump’s policies. It is about the alliance between the US and the UK.’
Mr Bercow said in 2017 that he would be unwilling to allow Mr Trump to make a formal address in Westminster Hall, as Barack Obama did during his state visit in 2011. He is pictured above